24: Recombination (part 7)

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24.10 The Magic Goes Away

The World: 25 May 2128

There was an intense light in front of Mila, she could see it even though her eyes were clamped tightly shut. She was also screaming – she couldn't help it. The energy poured through her, burning in a way that echoed how it had been when Rick violated her.

Then it stopped. She opened her eyes. Where was Rick? She looked across to Krista, who was screaming and lit up like a beacon. Her light was infectious. It flashed around her, engulfing Charles to one side and then Garter on the other.

Mila broke the circle as did Yan and they fell backwards as the other three flared up. Mila tried to teleport to safety but nothing happened. She dragged herself away on hands and knees. Beside her Yan was doing the same.

The light behind intensified further and then flashed out leaving them in relative darkness. The ground still shook, wind whipped at her, rain drenched her, and then lightning cracked across the heavens accompanied immediately by thunder.

She felt something grab her ankle and was about to kick back at it when a lightning bolt revealed it to be Yan. She pulled him to her and they clung to each other, drenched in the downpour.

The smell of burning, the stink from 'three', permeated everything, even the rain. The lightning picked out the piecemeal world around them – deformed trees and collapsed buildings flashed across her vision with each bolt.

"Rick," Mila whimpered. There was no sign of him. There was also nothing remaining of Krista, Charles or Alec.

"Rick!" she screamed.

Only the grinding rumble of the ground and the howl of the wind replied.

"They're gone," Yan cried. "I saw Rick burn before Krista started."

"No, no, NO!"

She tried to locate any remains of the pyramid, but there was nothing. She felt nothing outside of herself. Even Yan, clasped in her arms, was unreachable mentally.

"It's all gone," he shouted, his voice almost lost in the wild elements.

Mila howled like a wild animal.

24.11 Alone

Roosa Section, under Lussac crater: 25 May 2128

Ellie's heart was in her throat as her eyes darted from one screen to another. Twelve of them displaying multiple views of the Earth showed similar scenes: magma pouring through the mantle in countless places; Iceland replaced by boiling seas; Japan swamped to its core by tsunamis; the Philippines even more shattered with smaller islands lost and new ones erupting from the ocean floor; and California all but crushed under a North American plate whose unstable centre threatened to take the whole continent with it.

Though she was unaware of it, the views depicted were mostly artificial – rendered, as they were, in real time from data derived from a number of artificial satellites orbiting the home planet. They were using infra-red, radar and other wavelengths to punch through the dust and debris in the atmosphere that prevented a direct view.

Nearby, Long and Jenny sat just as entranced. Long almost unrecognisable with his beard gone, and Jenny, clinging to his arm, mouth open wide and silent as she took it all in. Beyond them Jade and Jasmine both wore the same horrified expression as tears cascaded down their faces.

Janet Davidsen unconsciously dabbed at her eyes with the tissue. This is just too much like twenty-one years ago, she thought. But, despite all the destruction, it was considerably less this time around. There were still recognisable continents under the clouds, on the small occasions they parted to give them a natural view and, while most of the landmasses were affected and, in many cases, devastated, there were still a few spots that showed through green. She prayed it would remain that way.

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